How to do a Push Up...On the Floor...On Your Toes!

January 24, 2019

If you’re anything like me, you could rock a dozen push ups in elementary school, then you hit puberty and it seemed like your boobs took the strength right out of your arms. Unfortunately, this is common—well, not the boobs stealing your arm strength part. Many women lose upper body strength as our testosterone lessens and our estrogen grows; until puberty, boys and girls have similar testosterone levels

 

Push ups are a great way to strengthen your core, chest, lats, and triceps. When you do a push up, you’re demonstrating core control and upper body strength. And, since many people struggle to do them, they make you feel like a badass.

 

 

So, if you want to do a push up...on the floor...on your toes...here some strategies for getting there. In Part 1, you’ll become acquainted with your core and learn the form for your push up. In Part 2, you’ll work on developing further endurance and strength to prepare you for your floor push ups. In Part 3, you’ll start knocking out those push ups! It doesn’t matter how long you spend in each part, but you should feel like you’ve mastered elevated planks before moving onto planks on the floor.

 

 

Part 1: Meet Your Core and Learn Form!

 

Elevated planks: A push up is just a moving plank, so learning to control your core is hugely important before even attempting a push up. Elevating your arms makes the plank easier. If these are a struggle, start with 3 planks at 10 seconds with a short rest in between. Try to get up to a controlled 30-second plank, then move onto the plank in Part 2.

 

Place your elbows on a raised surface, directly under your shoulders with your hands at elbow width, palms facing each other in fists. Keeping your spine neutral with your front ribs pulling toward your back ribs, extend your legs straight out behind you. Your hips should be parallel to your ribs with your low back neither arched nor tucked. Keep tension throughout your entire body, from your abs to your mid-back to your glutes and thighs. Keep your chin tucked and your neck in line with the rest of your spine. The higher your elbows are from the ground, the easier this exercise will be.

 

 

Elevated push ups: The higher your upper body is elevated, the easier your push up will be. Feel free to start against a wall, then move to a counter, then to the back of a couch, then to a coffee table, then a stair. (Make sure that any furniture you use is sturdy!) When you’re completing successful elevated push ups from about the level of your knee, start adding push up negatives in Part 2. However, keep striving to go lower in your elevated push ups. Aim to be able to do 15 reps without stopping.

 

Get into a plank position, with your back neutral and your hands against a wall level to (or slightly wider than) your shoulders. Breathe in through your nose and pull yourself toward the wall. Make sure your elbows track no more than 45 degrees from your body and your back stays neutral. Breathe out through the mouth as you press yourself back up to your starting position. Allow your shoulder blades to push away from each other to complete the movement.

 

Get into a plank position, with your back neutral and your hands on an elevated surface below or slightly wider than your shoulders. Breathe in through your nose and pull yourself toward the elevated surface; the center of your chest should land right between your hands, so adjust your feet if you need to. Make sure your elbows track no more than 45 degrees from your body and your back stays neutral. Breathe out through the mouth as you press yourself back up to your starting position. Allow your shoulder blades to push away from each other to complete the movement.

 

 

Part 2: Develop Strength and Endurance

 

Plank on the floor: Once you’ve mastered an elevated plank, start practicing your plank on the floor. Again, you can start with shorter planks and work up to about 30 seconds or so.

 

Place your elbows directly under your shoulders with your hands at elbow width, palms either facing the floor or facing each other in fists. Your spine should be neutral with your front ribs pulling toward your back ribs. Your hips should be parallel to your ribs with your low back neither arched nor tucked. Your legs should reach straight out from your hips with straight knees, toes digging into the floor. Keep tension throughout your entire body, from your abs to your mid-back to your glutes to your thighs. Keep your chin tucked and your neck in line with the rest of your spine.

 

 

Push up negatives: The push up negative really drives home the point that a push up is just a moving plank. Try to lower yourself to the ground as slowly as you can without losing your plank. Work up to lowering yourself down over a 10 second span, 8-10 times, without resting in between. (You might only be able to hold it a few seconds, at first. That’s okay! Start where you are!)

 

Get into a high plank position with your back neutral and your hands below or slightly wider than your shoulders. Breathe out, slowly through your mouth as you pull yourself toward the floor. Make sure your elbows track no more than 45 degrees from the body and your back stays neutral. Continue moving toward the floor slowly and with control until your entire body is on the floor — your chest should touch first. After you reach the floor, return to the starting position by coming up through your knees until you’re back in a high plank.

 

 

Part 3: Start Nailing Those Push Ups!

 

Push ups to target: Place a target under your chest to aim for as you start doing push ups from your toes. I like to use a yoga block. You can start with the block in its most vertical position, then go to a medium level, before finally reaching to the lowest level. If you don’t have access to a yoga block, find some things around your house! A stack of books works great—once you can do 12-15 good push ups at a high level, you can take a book away and try to do 8-10 reps a little lower! Ideally, you want your push up to get to the depth of your sideways fist (the fist you’d make if you were holding a beer bottle.

 

Get into a plank position, with your back neutral and your hands below or slightly wider than your shoulders. Place a target, like a yoga block or a stack of books, under your chest. The higher the target, the easier the push up will be. Breathe in through your nose and pull yourself toward the target. Make sure your elbows track no more than 45 degrees from the body and your back stays neutral. Breathe out through the mouth as you press yourself back up to your starting position. Allow your shoulder blades to push away from each other to complete the movement.

 

 

Supplement your workouts with these push up primers 3-5 times a week and you’ll see a noticeable difference in your core and upper body strength!


 

 

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